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Japanese Tea Culture

Funeral and Tea

When we are invited for a funeral, often the chief mourner hands us a message card and a package of tea. We feel tea is something essential to a funeral. Take Ochatou as an example, people place tea at the Buddhist alter, and also in Tokushima prefecture this tea is served in a small cup. This cup is called Chatouoke.
There used to be a strong connection between Buddhism and tea. Since we usually have a funeral at the temple, tea became essential thing. In some places, they place tea leaves in the coffin. Some people say it is for preventing the stench of death because tea has disinfectant properties. It is not only a custom of Japan, but also in Myammer, people use tea as a disinfectant purpose.
In addition, tea also holds the meaning of passing the border between two different worlds. Tea trees often were used to mark the borders between the houses. Also, drinking tea it self means passing the border of something. For example, when we go to someone's house and are served tea, it means that we are accepted. At the funeral, people used to gather and drink tea together as they send the departed from this world to the world after death as a ceremony. Nowadays, more people are invited for the funeral, so the chief mourner hands dry tea to everyone instead for serving hot tea.

(Yoichiro Nakamura)

Tea with family Buddhist altar

Tea with family Buddhist altar